Biggest Weekend: Taylor Swift plays the hits then runs in Swansea

By Mark Savage & Kev Geoghegan
BBC Music

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Taylor Swift stayed true to her name, playing a brief, but flawless, set at the BBC's Biggest Weekend in Swansea.

Effectively a stripped-back supercut of her current world tour, the six-song performance largely focused on the star's 2017 album Reputation.

She opened with the pummelling goth-pop of Ready For It, before racing through songs like Gorgeous and Delicate.

Fans were forced to wait to the end to hear the classics Blank Space and Shake It Off - and then it was all over.

But if the 26,000-strong audience who'd crammed into Swansea's Singleton Park felt short-changed, they didn't show it, shimmying along with Swift and her tightly-drilled dancers.

"You're not just singing along but you're screaming along... which is the best," said Taylor, as she took stock of the crowd.

"It kind of took my breath away a little bit when I first came out here."

The star also worked in two plugs for her UK tour dates, as she played live on BBC TV and radio.

image captionSwift by name, swift by nature... the star was on stage for 28 minutes
image captionThe star introduced her dancers to the crowd between songs

But if her set was ruthless in its efficiency, it was nonetheless a masterclass in pop - from Swift's effortless vocals and shape-throwing choreography to her adorkable between-song banter.

"Oh wait, this is in the wrong key!" she laughed as she fumbled the start of Delicate, sliding a capo up the neck of her guitar to find the right note.

"She was fantastic. She's amazing. She's unique," said Lauren, who was happy to see the star in her hometown.

"You don't often get to see Taylor Swift in Swansea, let's be fair."

image captionSwift's Reputation was one of 2017's biggest-selling albums

"It was briefer than I thought it was going to be," added Chantelle from Miskin, Rhondda Cynon Taff.

"I was expecting a little bit more Swifty but she looked good."

Charis Lee, from Abergavenny, commented: "I'd have liked to hear some of the older stuff - the country stuff - but she was amazing."

After performing, Swift admitted backstage that she had been "a tiny bit nervous".

"We pretty much had no time to rehearse for this. This was kind of like, on the fly," she told Radio 1's Greg James.

The star also declared "I'm not worth it!" when she was told her performance bumped Antiques Roadshow off the Sunday night TV schedule.

media captionFlorence Welch anoints the crowd

Swift was followed by headliner, Florence + The Machine, who gave a spirited, spiritual performance, as she whirled across the stage like a barefoot shamanic warrior.

After clasping a fan's head in her hands during What Kind Of Man, she closed her set with a promise about the restorative powers of her hit single Shake It Out.

"I've been to a lot of festivals, and I know how it feels at the end of the second day," she said. "If you sing this song, I promise you will not have a hangover tomorrow.

"I wrote it with a hangover... but that's beside the point."

image captionCamila Cabello said she'd enjoyed her first experience of Wales

Earlier in the day, Camila Cabello - who is supporting Swift on her current world tour - gave a spectacular performance on Swansea's main stage, playing her own hits Havana and Never Be The Same alongside snippets of Prince's Purple Rain and Can't Help Falling In Love.

The 21-year-old's pin-sharp choreography and exuberant charisma made her one of the day's stand-out performers - a feat that was all the more impressive given that she was battling the heat, while jet-lagged, in a skin-tight black catsuit.

"Why did I do that?" she laughed, as she spoke to BBC News after the show.

"It was so hot up there, I thought I was going to pass out at one point but I was like, 'I'm going to give everything to Swansea. They'll have to carry me out of here!'"

The singer, who arrived in Wales on Saturday night after playing a show on Swift's world tour in Denver, said she'd been impressed by her first encounter with the country.

"I was in Cardiff last night and we were walking outside. It was like 11pm and there was a lady that was... drunk. She was wasted.

"She was approaching this guy [who was] playing guitar. And she was like, 'Play Havana!' and she started singing the chorus.

"I got out my phone to record it, and she just stumbled away!"

media captionRita Ora made Avicii's song the centrepiece of her set

Other performers in Swansea on Sunday included Rita Ora, who opened the main stage with a clutch of her own hits, and a tribute to dance star Avicii, who died last month.

One Direction star Niall Horan led a mass singalong to his solo tracks Slow Hands and This Town, as well as a slowed-down reggae version of the 1D hit Drag Me Down.

Demi Lovato, Stefflon Don, Thirty Seconds To Mars and Jason Derulo also kept the crowd entertained as they waited for Swift and Florence + The Machine, who will close the event.

image captionShawn Mendes drew one of the day's biggest crowds to the stage in Swansea's Singleton Park

Meanwhile, Coventry's War Memorial Park saw Radio 2 continue its contribution to the Biggest Weekend, with sets from Snow Patrol, UB40 and headliner Liam Gallagher.

Wearing his traditional uniform of a zipped-up cagoule and an Elvis sneer, he played a tried-and-tested festival set that kicked off with the Oasis classics Rock And Roll Star and Morning Glory.

"Alright Coventry, don't listen to what people say about you, you are a proper city," he announced at as he took the stage.

It might have seemed like an odd way to win over the crowd - but he was aware they'd braved a rainstorm to watch him perform.

"Thanks for sticking round I know the weather ain't been nice," he acknowledged.

Though his voice is clearly not what it was, the 45-year-old still carries himself like a rock star, belting out defiant lyrics, and closing his set with an emotional Live Forever - which he memorably sang at the One Love Manchester show last year.

image captionLiam Gallagher concentrated on Oasis songs, and his recent solo album

Earlier, Coventry's main stage had been launched by Welsh rockers Stereophonics - a band who aren't used to such an early morning slot.

"Let me think how it was sold to us," singer Kelly Jones told the BBC. "Remember that time that U2 and Paul McCartney opened up Live 8?

"And we could be back in the pub by five. So yeah, we took it."

One artist who brought some Caribbean sunshine to Coventry was Billy Ocean, whose crowd-pleasing set included the Bob Marley classic No Woman, No Cry as well as Love Really Hurts, Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car and, of course, Caribbean Queen.

image captionBilly Ocean said he was thrilled by the response to his set in Coventry

"I saw lots of people enjoying themselves," he said after coming off the stage.

"The energy from them comes back to you. We keep doing what we do because we make people happy. There's nothing like it."

Full coverage of the four-day music festival is available on BBC TV, radio and the dedicated Biggest Weekend website.

The event wraps up in Coventry on Monday, with a day dedicated to classical music, including sets by Nigel Kennedy, Eliza Carthy and a "Strictly Spectacular" featuring the show's professional dancers and the BBC Concert Orchestra.

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